Then the people who had arrested Jesus led Him to the home of Caiaphas, the high priest, where the teachers of religious law and the elders had gathered. Meanwhile, Peter followed Him at a distance and came to the high priest’s courtyard. He went in and sat with the guards and waited to see how it would all end. Matthew 26:57-58 (NLT)
I feel for Peter. I would hate to have my actions recorded for anyone to read. If you’ve spent any time in church, you’ve read the story. Peter boldly tells Jesus that he will follow Him to the grave. Jesus tells Peter it won’t be long before he denies Him, not once but three times.
We are left to imagine goes through Peter’s mind. I find it interesting that bold, outspoken Peter had a quiet thought of pause after Jesus, during the Passover celebration, told His closest friends that one of them would deny Him. For a moment Peter entertained the notion it could be him.
I can relate to Peter.
I grew up in church. I can sing songs like “I Surrender All” and “Onward Christian Soldiers” without the hymnal. While I’m at church the words come easy—I surrender all, all to Thee my blessed Savior, I surrender all.
Then I leave church.
Sometimes I act like Peter and follow at a distance waiting to see how it all will end. I’m sure that evening in the courtyard, Peter was faced with the realization, he had as much faith as he had fear.
There is the lesson Peter’s life offers you and me today. It seems incongruous—faith and fear are incompatible—yet anyone who is honest has to admit, both live in the human heart. So what made Peter willing to jump over the side of the boat one minute and then deny his friend in his friend’s darkest hour?
It’s the thing that makes singing I Surrender All so easy at church but loving someone, not like me, so difficult when I’m at the market moments later. It’s having the faith to know that God loves me but worrying about what will happen if… (you fill in your if).
See? You and I can curl our lips and shake our heads at how weak Peter was, but in the harsh light of truth, you, Peter and I are all the same. We are more comfortable at a distance when we aren’t sure how things will work out. We are all full of faith AND full of fear.
In our sameness, there is one stark difference. Peter didn’t know how this would turn out. We have the entire story. We have Peter’s eye-catching failures and we see Jesus’ astounding reaction to those failures—love.
So, if your fear is running high, let me encourage you today, move closer to Jesus, even if you don’t see the outcome. It’s in close proximity to Jesus that faith soars and fear fades. King David learned that truth. Paul wrote about it.
If your fear—sin, failure, or your lack of skill—causes you to hide—run to God in faith—He is waiting to forgive, empower and strengthen you. The same love Jesus had for Peter He has for you!
Move close to Jesus. Stay close to Jesus.
Father, increase my faith and help me overcome my fear! I so often stay at a distance because I can’t see how things will work out—how I can be successful, pleasing to You or safe? Those questions plague my mind and I want to run in fear. Remind me that Your love for me is not conditional on my performance. Let Your love for me increase my faith and shrink my fear!